Brewing delicious homemade espresso ultimately comes down to preparation and accuracy. There are a few things you can do during the preparation to ensure barista-standard espresso:
- Tamp at a 90-degree angle. Tamping can ultimately make or break the taste of your espresso. Follow these steps to tamp like a pro:
• Use your finger to level the grounds and brush off any excess coffee.
• Bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle and apply about 15 pounds of pressure.
• Once you’ve formed a puck, apply more pressure to make it even more compact (about 20 to 30 pounds of pressure should do the trick).
Helpful hack: If you’re not sure how much force is needed for tamping, stand on a scale and push the tamp down on the counter until you see your weight decrease. This will show you how hard you need to press to reach the right amount of pressure while tamping.
- Measure the coffee-to-water ratio. The intense flavor of espresso is credited to a very high coffee-to-water ratio. Make sure that the weight of the liquid espresso is about one to three times the amount of dry coffee used.
For example, if you use three teaspoons of dry coffee, you will end up pulling a standard 1.26 fluid ounce double shot of espresso.
- Check the consistency of your grounds. To achieve the perfect homemade espresso, the grind texture has to be just right. If your shot tastes bitter or burnt, it could be the result of over-extraction, which occurs with grounds that are too fine. And if it tastes weak or sour, you might be brewing with grounds that are too coarse.
While personal taste does help determine where you want your espresso on the ‘bitter-to-weak spectrum’, strive for fine grounds that are consistent in size and texture.
- Make sure the water is hot. The temperature of the water is a key component to pulling the perfect shot. When the water reaches the espresso beans, it should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.